Leeds huffed and puffed today at the City Ground.
The casual (Twitter) observer may lament a 84th minute Derbyshire strike as 'unfair’, but Leeds registered a single shot on target in the game - and scored from it (admittedly from 10 attempts).
Leeds remain tantalisingly close to the play-off places, but there's an ominous feeling surrounding the result at Forest.
Draws away at out-of-form Blackpool and bottom club Barnsley were definitely 4 points dropped, and Leeds needed to make a statement in this match with a promotion rival today - and failed to do so. Instead, Leeds looked tired and unimaginative.
The overworked Austin is surely now deserving of a break - as much as Mowatt, but who could replace our captain ? Brown ? Green ? Tonge ? Norris ? All have that `workmanlike’ quality about them that defines them as Warnock signings, but whilst manager Brian McDermott has the ability to make a silk purse out of a sows ear, it seems - Peltier, Pugh and Pearce all perform brilliantly under McDermott but were dreadful under Warnock - there's surely no ready replacement for Austin as a natural leader.
Ariyibi, Poleon and Byram all showed positive flashes today as subs, but it's clear McDermott is not unleashing any of them fully yet - no doubt hoping he can get by with a generally well performing group. But our line up today didn't set the pulses racing, and it's critical that the takeover by the Haigh Group really does get completed this month. We need to be able to invest meaningfully in player talent in January. Stikers and creative players are a must if our hardworking side is to have any chance of promotion to the Premier League.
Leeds United truly are at a crossroads - far more than, say, 12 months ago as GFH wrestled with the ruinous legacy of mountainous debts, mortgaged season ticket sales, and a nosediving attendance. But
The club needs to act quickly now, to build on the good work on the field being undertaken by McDermott and his staff. The scale of their achievement is clear when one considers the majority of the squad remain Warnock signings - combined with youth. And, let's not forget, those same players narrowly avoided relegation last season. A manager of such ability will attract admirers soon and, if he is not backed up by the board in terms of new signings, he could be on his way.
The takeover of Leeds United must surely complete soon, and McDermott should then receive some funding to compete with the Forests and Leicesters of this world, and stand a chance at promotion.
Leeds have an opportunity now, but it's up to the board to deliver - in spades. Interesting times ahead at Elland Road.
image: © Paul Dantanus